More disappointment (now with a silver lining)

I found out today that I was ranked “a close fourth” for the job and that I would not be asked to come give a talk.  I was, however, asked if I would like to keep my candidacy open because I am a strong applicant and you never know what sorts of twists and turns a job search might take.  So I told them I would love to keep my candidacy open, knowing that it probably won’t matter since (in this tough market) one of the other three finalists will likely snatch up that job whether it’s what he or she really wants or not.  I was also told that I was inched out of the top three finalists due to less teaching experience and fewer publications.  This took me by surprise.  While I don’t have a ton of publications by any means, the ones I have are solid, mostly in top journals, and I am first author on all of them (except for one).  I also was surprised that I had less teaching experience compared with the others—I have taught five courses and supervised two semesters of Independent Study students.  Basically what this all means is that the people who did make it into the top three slots have been eating shit longer than I have, and in that case, my hat is off to them—they do indeed deserve the job more than I do.  They may have been Visiting Assistant Professors or adjuncts for years and years, or worse, if they are already at the Assistant Professor level at another institution, they have the upper hand in terms of research experience, grant funding, teaching experience, you name it.  Against someone like that, I don’t have a chance.  The more I think about it, the more I think this is a very real possibility—the competition for grants is intense, and if you’re at a research-intensive institution and not getting those grants, the only way to save yourself from being asked to leave is to go looking for a place that values teaching more than research.  I just never had a chance against someone like that.

Minutes after receiving the news about the job, I got my quote for setting up my lab in my Inbox—a little over $19,000 would buy me the basic equipment I would need to start running experiments.  I spent a good chunk of time over the past week looking at behavioral testing equipment on the Med Associates website.  I just look at that quote now and wish I had spent time watching paint dry instead.  

I feel a lot of disappointment and shame.  I feel like I’ve let myself and my family down.  I feel like this is all impossible and that I don’t want to do it anymore.  And I have a manuscript sitting on my table, waiting for some final edits before it goes back out, and I can’t even bear to look at it.  I held myself together all afternoon through a playdate and a last-minute pediatrician appointment.  I didn’t let myself cry until the drive home, and even then, I pulled into the driveway and pulled myself together again.  It’s like the old beater that you’ve driven for 10 or 15 years—with every $1000 repair you think to yourself “This is it.  This is the last thing that needed to be done to keep this old girl running for another year or so.”  The problem is that you plunk down $1000 every month, and each time you do it, you think to yourself “Now really, *this* is the last time…”  My career has been like that.  It’s leaking oil and I keep topping it off, and it keeps leaking.  And I top it off again because I am a moron.

The titular promise of a silver lining can be stated thusly—-despite not getting the job I really wanted, I will be starting a different job in April!!  I had coffee with my postdoc advisor last week to discuss start-up funds, the costs associated with setting up and running a lab, how awesome eyeblink conditioning is, etc.  The next day he found out that one of his grants had been funded and he is reserving a funding line for me!  The funding line is actually intended for a graduate student, but I don’t care—-it’s money and it’s a job.  I would get training in the molecular core which is very, very cool.  And I absolutely adore my postdoc advisor and I am very excited to work with him again.  He has a lot of knowledge to share and he is just a great person.  And now because he has funding, I will likely have more success at getting grants of my own.  The fact that we don’t have to move is good and bad.  It’s great that we don’t have to sell our place in this market or worry about moving with a baby, but it also sucks that we have to stay in a place that has been so problematic for us (the most recent annoyance involved the cleaning of vomit from the rear walkway).  Yuck.  It’s also good that we are both still walking distance from work.  I do need to arrange childcare and I do need to wrap up my pumping for Milkin’ Mamas so that I can start pumping for Holden’s daycare.  

So, I think that pretty much gets us up-to-date.  I am really excited about working again, even if it’s not exactly what I had envisioned for myself.  I am excited for Holden to have some other experiences and get to play with other kids (he generally loves his 1-hour sessions at his weekly playgroup).  And my VT friends, although sad for me, seem really happy that we’re still going to be around.  And everything is more bearable when you are surrounded by friends.

kelly g
February 24th, 2009 8:11 am

aww amy i wish i could hug you. glad to hear there is a silver lining.

Leave Your Comment